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Untying the Knot Part II - Digging a Little Deeper
Wow! What a response to my last article. I have come to realize that more people than not are unprepared when it comes to divorce. Mental health professionals I have spoken to say, that divorcing a spouse can sometimes be more emotional than losing a spouse to death. Emotions often cloud your decision making which can lead to poor choices when it comes to finances.
Making changes to a property settlement agreement is almost impossible. There must be hard proof based on fraud, deceit or a major mistake. In other words, get it right the first time. With that said, I have met with too many individuals who were not clear on the financial outcome of their divorce. Request a credit check. I recently met with a client who was unaware of a significant home equity loan balance on the marital home.
The couple opened a line of credit during the marriage for emergency reasons. When reviewing the tax returns, I noticed a deduction for mortgage interest (the home had been paid off a few years earlier). By doing a credit check on herself, she would have seen the outstanding balance. By the time she found out, they were already negotiating the settlement. After selling the home and paying off the debt, both walked away with much less than anticipated. Go to Annual Credit Report , a site set up by the big three credit reporting agencies in the U.S. to furnish free annual credit reports, as required by federal law.
Did you know that if you were covered for health insurance under your ex-spouses employer's plan, you may qualify to continue your coverage for up to 36 months under COBRA? One caveat - it's not automatic. You need to contact the employer within 60 days of the divorce and complete the necessary paperwork. Social Security: Did you know that you may be entitled to half of your ex-spouses social security benefits? You are entitled to a divorced spouse's insurance benefits on the worker's Social Security record if:
If you would like more information, visit the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service websites. For information about potential benefits on someone else's record, you need to you need to call or visit a local social security office.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the division of property in a divorce is to be done fairly, not necessarily equally. The court can take into consideration any factor it deems relevant when dividing property, but it must consider certain factors, such as how long the couple was married and the age and health of both spouses, the income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse, the standard of living that was achieved during the marriage, and the extent to which one spouse may have deferred career goals, among others.
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